The drenching rains and howling winds were gone but flooding concerns persisted Wednesday, as anxious residents waited for waters to recede so they could see what was left after this week's fierce storm.
The storm, which killed at least seven people, battered the Pacific Northwest before moving on Tuesday, leaving behind flooded homes, fallen trees and washed-out roads, including the region's largest highway.
Some were spending Wednesday looking for the lost. In the Lewis County town of Winlock (That's us!!), a dive team planned to search normally tiny Wallers Creek for Richard Hiatt, 81, believed to have been swept away when a bank gave outfrom underneath him.
"It happened so quickly," daughter-in-law Sharon Hiatt said Tuesday as searches continued. "That's the only possibility, that he fell into the creek.". . .
. . . National Guard troops were summoned early Wednesday morning to help evacuate a 20-unit trailer park near Elma threatened by the flooding Chehalis River, Kelly said.. . .
. . . As the water started to rise outside their Lewis County home, Terry Roberts moved his cars to higher ground, shepherded his wife and two children into their RV and hit the road.
They didn't get far.
"We were on dry road and all of a sudden, the water started swirling around," Roberts said, standing with his wife in a temporary shelter in Chehalis after being rescued by a Coast Guard helicopter. "That's when we got on the CB and called for help."
Roberts, 64, was among the hundreds who fled their homes after the storm.
Gov. Chris Gregoire, who toured the ravaged region by helicopter Tuesday, touched down at a high school shelter in Chehalis and offered encouragement to the roughly 40 people staying there.
She also ordered a plane to deliver food and emergency supplies to the high school in Pe Ell, about 25 miles to the west, because the roads were blocked by water.
"It's hard to comprehend 5- to 10-feet under until you see those houses," Gregoire said.
The governor also flew to the water's edge on Interstate 5, which has been shut down since Monday at Centralia because of flooding. At one point Tuesday, officials said a three-mile section of the road was under as much as 10 feet of water from the surging Chehalis River.
The interstate, which is the main north-south route between Portland, Ore., and Seattle, was expected to be closed at least through Thursday.. . .. . . With I-5 closed, state officials were recommending a lengthy detour -- Interstate 90 across the Cascade mountains and down U.S. 97 through central Washington to the Oregon border -- a route that roughly doubles the three-hour trip from Seattle to Portland.
David Dye, Washington state's deputy transportation secretary, said workers were cleaning up lots of debris -- "garbage, tires, dead rats everywhere" -- while they waited for the water to recede.
On the edge of downtown Centralia, waist-high water the color of chocolate milk covered streets as police used small boats to get to houses in flooded neighborhoods.
More than 300 people had to be rescued in Lewis County, many being plucked off their rooftops by helicopter, Sheriff Steve Mansfield said.
Chehalis City Manager Merlin MacReynold said between 70 and 80 people had to be rescued in the city limits alone. He called the flooding worse than the 1996 deluge, which is still legendary in the area.
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